One of my favorite wedding blogs, Weddingbee, is now absent from my blog list. The founder has sold the site to eHarmony.
That kind of bugs me, and I'm not the only one. A major reason many Weddingbee readers are uncomfortable with the new ownership is that eHarmony does not match same-sex couples – only heterosexual couples. That in itself is not so upsetting to me. My capitalist little heart says it’s a totally legit business strategy to go after one particular market (in this case, straight couples looking for long-term relationships), and I wouldn’t get mad about a dating site that catered only to same-sex couples.
What does bother the heck out of me is that eHarmony founder Dr. Neil Clark Warren has very close ties to Focus on the Family, to the extent that eHarmony once billed itself as “founded by Neil Clark Warren, author of Focus on the Family’s relationship books." As recently as 2005, eHarmony sent Focus on the Family-published literature to its new members. Also, there is a fair amount of anecdotal evidence from the interwebs to suggest that eHarmony has been resistant to suggesting interracial matches, even when members indicated that they preferred dating people of other races.
Yikes. I won’t get in to my reasons for not liking FoF here – they’re pretty much what you might guess. (Short version: I’m a Methodist and I resent FoF founder James Dobson for giving a bad name to Christians, not to mention the state of Colorado.) What’s important is that I don’t really want to help generate revenue for a company that seems so buddy-buddy with an organization that stands against what I see as simple justice and equality. The whole "not matching same-sex couples" thing took on a new light when I read about the FoF connection.
Many of my favorite bloggers have chosen to stay, and I find their arguments for staying pretty compelling – if everyone who supports marriage equality left Weddingbee, it would go from a vibrant, diverse community to a much less diverse (and much less interesting, IMHO), place. And eHarmony would be able to justify its policies by telling itself “well, we’re still making money even though all those folks left, guess they’re not that important.” Maybe, just maybe, having an eHarmony-funded blog where gay and lesbian couples are celebrated would begin to change the company’s attitude. At the very least, it would be cool to see eHarmony’s money used to support a site where beautiful photos of gay and lesbian weddings are pinned up for the world to see and admire.
But I am still on the fence about whether I’ll be reading Weddingbee regularly from now on. Don’t get me wrong, I still love the blog, I love the bloggers, and I love the boards where brides can get help and advice from others who are in the middle of this stressful planning process. And if some of my favorite bloggers will continue to post about marriage equality and show off gorgeous photos of gay weddings, I want to support them. But I don’t know if I can live with the thought of Neil Clark Warren making money off my web surfing addiction, even though I know that my clicks generate only about 1/100 of a penny in ad revenue for the site. And had I been one of those bloggers, I really don’t think I could have agreed to volunteer my time to make money for eHarmony and its founder (the Bees aren’t paid as far as I know).
So I’m undecided about my future as a Weddingbee reader. I've removed Weddingbee from my blog roll and instead added the personal blogs of some of my favorite Bees. But mostly I’m just bummed that such a cool site was bought by such a sketchy organization.
This post was edited to remove earlier factual errors.